‘Conservatory Map’ was born from a sudden imagination I had about the whole life of a small tree which was transplanted from its own soil to a very unfamiliar place: the conservatory. Conservatory plants are surrounded by decent, constructed environment but emit an unnatural resonance. That sense of passive migration provoked me to contemplate and photograph them. Conservatory plants are one type of Migrator – they show that quiet tension and passive energy for assimilation to a new environment as time goes by. This tension and energy create different and new textures of being from just the innate thing, overlapping with my life as an immigrant artist in the U.S. I also shot portraits of immigrant artists standing in a conservatory searching for that spontaneous interaction between these two energies.
In Between Two Islands
‘In Between Two Islands’ is a minimal map in diptych images of two places: Jeju and foreign cities I've visited including New York. Jeju is like an earth-mother island to the Korean people. I began traveling to Jeju everytime I went home to visit Korea. I was drawn to Jeju for its healing natural beauty. New York is also an island in immigrants' mind. Photographing these two subjects, I was able to obtain a sense of space which enabled me to see each in a more objective way: nature's island and civilization's island. They look extremely different at first sight, but they have subtle common aspects because they can coexist mutually. They are inevitably connected and constant. Juxtaposing and mapping civilization's solitariness and nature's neutrality together, I endeavor to show the resonance of different textures of natural places and similar originalities of human spaces. There is a "conversation" between them.
‘Tone’ is an ongoing series developed from my night photography series of the past five years. Also ‘Tone’ series stemmed out from my attempt to transform two-dimensional relationships into three-dimensional relationships by distancing myself from the objects with the ‘distance’ as the third element. By distancing rather than nearing the objects, I hope to get obscure yet everlasting lingering imageries. Distancing is not about being far away. Rather it is about creating tension, which enables me to detect humble yet minimal ‘truth’ at last. I came to realize that the ‘truth’ shares the characteristics of ‘tone’ rather than having clear color or pattern. ‘Tone’ series began accidentally by my using expired black and white Ilford 3200 films given to me by my friend. Old and high-speed negatives resulted in rough and grainy prints. From the coarse and grainy surface of the photographs that resembled scattered sands, I sensed an archetype of ‘tone’ itself. To me, ‘tone’ is like a fragile cover to the non-existential world. I am seeing that opaque side of the world through the cover, but vaguely.